Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Final Sugarman/Rubenstein Connection

Based on all of this research, it looked like the Rubenstein family, all of them, changed their name to Sugarman. Why would they have done that?  And how exactly is Sigmund (or Susman, as written on one boat record) actually connected to the Sugarmans?

I'd actually connected to two living Sugarman descendents. One is descended from Chatzkel and one from Sigmund. Neither had heard of a Rubenstein connection and didn't seem too confident in our families' connection.  So a bit more research was in order.

Back to the Nezhin microfilm. Was there a Sugarman family in Nezhin?  At this point I still am not finished going through the 1850s, but at this point there are records pointing to multiple children born to Avraham and Henya Tzuckerman.  Avraham's father is given as Chatzkel and Henya's father was Chaim.  Chatzkel Rubenstein's father is also Avraham.

The vital records also revealed that the Tzukerman family was registered in Lebodova in Vilna Gubernia. I searched Jewishgen for records from that town--and half the town was Tsukermans!  In addition, there were Rubensteins in the town.  Interestingly, Lebodova is only 16 miles from Krasnoye, the town where the Halperins were registered; both were far from their registration towns in Nezhin, but possibly they knew one another before.

Children located so far include:
  • Buna, born about 1855 (based on her marriage record to Shlomo son of Ber Hardoshnik/Gardoshnik)
  • Rivka, 1858-1860 (based on her death record)
  • Yosef Dovid, born 1861
  • Ber, born 1864
  • Chaim Leib (1866-1867)
  • Ben-Tzion, born 1868
  • Mendel, born 1870
  • Yaakov, born 1873
  • Zusman, born 1875
Birth record for Zusman Tzukarman, Nezhin, 1875
Zusman Tzukerman!  Could this be Sigmund Sugarman's birth record!  If so, Sigmund was from Nezhin as well.

I hadn't looked for Sigmund in the 1900 census because the Rubensteins hadn't yet immigrated to America.  But I went back to take a second look.  And there it was!  Sigmund Sugarman was living in Syracuse--with his mother Henny!  So it looks like this Sigmund was the same Zusman Tzukerman, as in the Nezhin birth records!
1900 United States Census, Sigmund Sugarman & family (including mother Henny)
Henny, according to the census, was born in August 1843.  Since Chatzkel was born in 1849, Henny could obviously not be his mother.  Likely Chatzkel's mother had died and his father Avraham remarried Henny.

My suspicion is that Chatzkel took his mother's maiden name as his to help avoid being drafted into the Russian Army. The other Sugarman brothers went to America in the 1880s and 1890s, possibly for the same reason.  Once Chatzkel moved to America, he was able to revert to his true family name safely.  I'm hoping that the 1850s records will reveal Chatzkel's mother's name (although his birth record will not be there even if he had been born in Nezhin, since the records start in 1852).  My guess is that she will be some version of Buna.  Chatzkel had a Bunia, and he had a sister Buna; my guess is that Chatzkel & Buna's mother died in childbirth and the surviving baby was given her mother's name.  But that's still unproven.

And if this all weren't enough evidence, last week a descendent of Chatzkel's mailed out pictures of Sugarman family tombstones.  All of their Hebrew names and their father's names (down to Azriel Lampert who married into the family) were identical to those in the Nezhin records.

So it looks like the children of Chatzkel and Risha Rubenstein/Sugarman did go to upstate New York, and they are my distant cousins!


  1. I think this sounds like an interesting adventure and the name changes make it even more so. Best wishes to you on this project, pinning down answers.

    I found you through Geneabloggers and am now following you via the Feedly Reader. Have a great weekend.

  2. Susman is Hebrew for Sigmund. It's my hebrew name, I am Sigmund Sugarman, the 71 yo grandson of the 1875 Sigmund

    1. Nice to "meet" you! Had you heard about the Sugarman branch who went by Rubenstein? Any story why?

  3. no idea, besides its not as cute a name as Sugarman

  4. By the way Lara, tell me about you (here, or email me at

  5. Hello name is Jim (James) Sugarman born in Buffalo NY in 1951. My middle name is Hascal and I was named after my great grandfather Chatzkel or Haskell. My father was Max Sugarman aka Morduch who came to the US with his parents Pesia and Chaim Rubenstein and two sisters on the SS Polonia in 1923 and they went to Buffalo as there were other Sugarman brothers there. They left behind two other children, sisters in Chernigoff of Chernigiv whose husbands were Bolesheviks. As a child I was told that the name had been changed to Rubenstein as Chaim was one of many sons but in order for him not to be conscripted in to the military a widow whose name was Rubenstein and who had no sons legally adopted him. While this is what I was could be that it was Chaim's father who changed his name but it seems more likely that it was Chaim (known as Hymen Sugarman in Buffalo). Max (Morduch), my dad, Risa (Ruth) and Sosna(?)(Sonia), my aunts are deceased. Not sure this is helpful but for me this was the Rubenstein/Sugarman connection which was shared with me.

    1. Very helpful, thank you! I'd love to be in touch.